Fake News by Robots? Axios Uses AI Program to Write ‘Not True’ Story in Experiment

“I wrote the first two sentences … Then, a new computer program created at OpenAI wrote the rest,” Axios’ Kaveh Waddell writes


Axios offered a glimpse of the possible brave new world of journalism over the weekend, publishing a story written almost entirely by artificial intelligence.

The story — which site tech reporter Kaveh Waddell stressed was “not true” — still read smoothly and would have been largely indistinguishable from other content written by Axios’ human reporters.

“I wrote the first two sentences in italics below — they’re from a story we published in Monday’s Axios Future newsletter,” Waddell wrote. “Then, a new computer program created at OpenAI wrote the rest, on the first try.”

The story itself — which, again, is fake — focused on “a new AI strategy document” which “speaks in stark terms of a ‘destabilizing’ Chinese threat.”

“It warns of a ‘new arms race in AI’ and says the United States ‘will not sit idly by’ as a ‘highly advanced new generation of weapons capable of waging asymmetric warfare’ is ‘possessed by aggressive actors,’” it reads.

Advances in artificial intelligence have led to disruptions in many industries in recent years, with machines and automated kiosks replacing human workers at a steady clip. One report from the McKinsey Global Institute has warned that by 2030, machines could wipe out more than 800 million jobs worldwide.

The Axios story suggests journalists too might not be immune to the wipeout either. For years programmers have been tinkering around the margins and have used AI to successfully to create content.

Back in 2014, the Los Angles Times made headlines after revealing that a robot was used to write a breaking news story about a small earthquake in the city, making the paper first out with its report.